Thinking of Naples, Tampa, Miami and All of the Sunshine State
I am thinking of Naples, Tampa, Miami and the rest of Florida as they await the arrival of Hurricane Irma.
Florida is such a fun place to vacation–beautiful beaches and so much great food. I love the seafood, but in Tampa and Miami, the Cubano, a Cuban-Style Pork Sandwich, reigns as the region’s signature dish–at least in my opinion.
I really think this Cuban-Style Pork Sandwich recipe just HAS to be as good as those served anywhere in the Sunshine State. It takes a little time to prep the marinade ingredients as there are a few, but it’s a breeze to cook once you got it all put together so it’s worth it.
The Birth of the Cubano
I love the history of food, and the Cubano has a good one, dating back at least to the 1900s. Variations of a Cuban-Style Pork Sandwich Pork sandwich were a lunch staple for many Cuban immigrants who had come to Florida, settling first in the Florida Keys and then in the Ybor City neighborhood in Tampa to work in cigar factories and sugar mills.
By the 1920s the sandwich had evolved into what is now known and loved today by many–a delicious layered Cuban bread sandwich made with pork shoulder cooked in a mojo marinade, the signature marinade of Cuba. The tender pork is then topped with salty ham, melty Swiss and a tangy sour dill. And don’t forget the mustard.
Using My Pressure Cooker for a Cuban-Style Pork Sandwich
The original recipe I tried for a Cuban-Style Pork Sandwich was a pressure cooker recipe, that is delicious made as is. I had a pork shoulder that I felt inspired to buy after watching the Chef movie, where Cubanos were the star of the show. I highly recommend the movie if you’re a foodie or just like a fun movie. The food and the music are great, and the food looks amazing.
My sister is THE pressure cooker queen, a true expert. She suggested finding a pressure cooker recipe for the pork. I’m not a big user of a pressure cooker or Instapot, and only use a pressure cooker for beans and chicken broth. Since she’s always pestering me to use it more often for other things, I hunted around and found a great recipe online to try, Tyler Florence’s The Ultimate Cuban Sandwich. I prepared the pork exactly as recommended in the recipe, and it turned out great.
Bringing Out the Slow Cooker
When I was ready to make the recipe again, I decided to try my slow cooker to cook the pork for the Cuban-Style Pork Sandwich. Turns out my slow cooker method worked just fine.
I prepared the mojo marinade and placed the marinade and pork in a gallon Ziploc bag. I let the pork marinate overnight, and cooked it the next day on low for 6 hours in my slow cooker. There was quite a bit of liquid, but the flavor of the pork was perfect.
I ended up defatting some of the “mojo” liquid with my Oxo Fat Separator and serving it as a dipping sauce. I know it’s not authentic to do this, but it really was tasty.
Unfortunately for me, it’s impossible to find Cuban bread or any kind of good crusty bread here in my little town in Central Illinois. So, I just use a baguette or ciabatta roll from Aldi for my Cuban-Style Pork Sandwiches. Delish!
The Assembly Line
To properly prepare my Cuban-Style Pork Sandwich, I slice the baguette open horizontally. I put some mustard on the bread and then added the pork and then all the Cubano toppings–thinly sliced smoked deli ham, Swiss cheese, and dill pickle slices. I either put a just a little of the defatted mojo sauce on top or use it as a dipping sauce. I slice the sandwiches into thirds and it’s good to go.
Cuban-Style Pork Sandwich
- 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 Tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons ground cumin
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon dried red chili flakes
- 4 cloves garlic peeled and roughly chopped (or minced)
- 2 oranges juiced
- zest from 1 orange
- 1 lime juiced
- zest from 1 lime
- ½ cilantro finely chopped
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 medium onion sliced
- 2 pounds boneless pork loin or shoulder
- 1 long Cuban bread roll or ciabatta rolls.
- 3 Tablespoons yellow mustard
- 8 thin slices Swiss cheese
- 1 cup sliced dill pickles
- 8 thin slices deli ham
For the mojo-style marinade, MIX the oil, salt, cumin, oregano, black pepper, red chili flakes, garlic, lime juice, orange juice and orange zest, and cilantro in a small bowl. (Using a blender or food processor is even better)
For the pork: PLACE marinade and pork in Ziploc plastic bag. SEAL and MARINATE overnight for best results.
PLACE the pork in a slow cooker. TOP with marinade, sliced onion and chicken broth. COVER and COOK on low until tender, 4-6 hours.
REMOVE from the slow cooker and let COOL slightly. SHRED the pork into chunks with 2 forks. RETURN pork to slow cooker to keep warm in the cooking liquid.
SLICE rolls open and SPREAD both sides with mustard. LAYER Swiss, ham, pork and pickles. SERVE.